Prizm News / January 1, 2018 / By Larry Johnson, Tracy Smith, Mason Caminiti, Ashleigh Alexander
“I will tell anyone: You can change,” says Ashleigh Alexander, who adopted a healthy lifestyle 1 1/2 years ago. “If you want to, you can accomplish your goals. If you want to, you can enjoy a healthy lifestyle.” (Prizm photo by Staley Munroe)

LGBTQ Ohioans in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s share their advice and experience for getting started and staying motivated.


(Photo courtesy of Larry Johnson)

Larry Johnson
Age: 66


I started my fitness journey on March 24, 1984.

I should say I got serious about physical health on that date, having just had my last drink of alcohol the day before.

I had always wanted to be fit, lean and strong but was generally too hung over or too busy to exercise. One of the things that kept me from drinking in those days was I knew that if I drank I wouldn’t work out.

So here I am 33-plus years later, sober and in pretty good shape.

That decision led me to a new career in which I get the privilege of guiding others to their personal fitness level. I’m now 66 and grateful for all these years of dedication.

How can you start your fitness journey?

Pick a program that you can stick with, then stick to it! And set sensible, reachable goals.


(Prizm photo by Staley Munroe)

Tracy Smith
Age: 52


I have led a pretty healthy and athletic lifestyle my entire life, yet I allowed every other thing to become a priority before my own health.

Bad habits and excuses became my way of not eating healthy or exercising regularly.

After gaining over 20 pounds, I knew I needed to be physically and mentally healthier and balanced in all facets of my life. I sought out a professional—Jonathan Weiss at JRWFitness—to get me on track.

That day in February 2016 transformed me.

Physically, he had me losing weight, eating healthy (more food than I ever ate per day) and becoming physically stronger and mentally solid.

I went to a metabolic physician to check my metabolic health, as it naturally decreases with age and impedes us from staying and feeling young.

I now have better mental clarity, my internal organ health is at its best, and my strength and physical abilities are higher than in my 20s and 30s.

This training has boosted my confidence to push myself further. It has motivated me to begin competing in national women’s physique competitions.

My advice to everyone over 50 is to make yourself a priority. Seek out a metabolic physician to check your internal health, and surround yourself with people who support and believe In your goals.

Turning 50 was the start to being the healthiest physically and mentally since my 30s. Now it’s your time to make the journey!


(Photos courtesy of Mason Caminiti)

Mason Caminiti
South Euclid
Age: 42


Sports have been a large part of my life since childhood, initially as a distraction to my real life growing up transgender in the ‘70s.

Soon after I started bodybuilding, I realized it was a way to make my body more masculine before I could begin my transition. It helped me feel empowered and made me realize there’s always something I can do with any given situation in life, even if it’s self-preservation.

For trans folks out there, I’ll tell you that I’m a competitive bodybuilder and compete against cisgender guys who have had testosterone in their systems much longer than I have. I continue to be fully committed to my goals and have improved my physique yearly.

Against all odds, I just qualified for nationals, which means I’ll compete for my Pro card in 2018. Nothing is impossible. You’re only as limited as you think you are.

Here’s my advice: Starting any diet and exercise program is tough. You’ll have setbacks, but keep going. It’s about continued, incremental change. You can do it!

To stay motivated and on track, I use visualization. I’ve posted notes and pictures of what I want to look like all over the place (work, home and wallet).


(Photo by Staley Munroe)

Ashleigh M. Alexander
Age: 30


I don’t know how my story will end, but one thing I know for sure. It will never read that I gave up.

My parents always told us how important it is to make good decisions. I knew I needed to make personal changes; I didn’t know how to start, though. I was comfortable in my day-to-day routine, drinking and partying.

In the words of my mom, a hard head makes a soft behind. I plummeted so fast, and it was then that realized I had to change. That’s when I started going to the gym.

I didn’t have a reason for going to the gym; I just decided to try it out one day. When I started working out, I felt good. I felt refreshed. I felt eager to return the next day.

As I thought about the values my mother instilled in me and how she raised me to be the best I can, I kept going to the gym and lifting. I started meeting people who had goals and dreams. I had no idea fitness was going to change my life.

Healthy eating on a daily basis became important to me. Exercising every day became important to me. Even daily walks in the park to clear my head became important to me.

I feel like I’ve won a battle. I walked into a gym not knowing what to expect, really not knowing what to do, but I didn’t give up.

Health and fitness replaced the drinking and partying, and I feel amazing!

Just 1 1/2 years later, with a job change, new friends and unwavering support from my family, I can now say, I love me.

I will tell anyone: You can change. If you want to, you can accomplish your goals. If you want to, you can enjoy a healthy lifestyle.

Just don’t give up, and don’t give up on you.